Brooklyn Rider Live in Hong Kong

Brooklyn Rider
Time Out Hong Kong


Jockey Club Amphitheatre, APA, Monday November 21

After their first piece, Nicholas Cords of the Brooklyn Rider introduced the night’s programme and talked about the group’s desire to be the “quartet of our time”. It was with this goal the night carried on.

Brooklyn Rider, also members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, has to be one of the boldest and most adventurous string quartets today with their madly diverse repertoire and programming; and attention-grabbing performance style. On their Hong Kong debut, it didn’t take long before one could see and hear that. Their opening piece, Mozart’s Quartet No. 8 in F Major K168, was infused with so much personality, interpretation, style and showmanship that one could almost not notice the odd intonations and passing pitch problems.

Making its Hong Kong premiere, Philip Glass’ Suite for Quartet from Bent was a product of his scoring for Sean Mathias’ film Bent in 1997 and this rendition was achingly beautiful. Here, the group truly came together with heightened sensitivity and carved the interlocking shapes with dark and heartbreaking intensity. The first half closed with Brooklesca, a composition by the group’s violinist Colin Jacobsen. Their affinity to the work’s portrayal of their hometown’s energy showed with immense honesty and their performance was infectious and a total delight to witness.

The second half started with Kol Nidre, a short piece composed by John Zorn that suggests being a prelude to Yom Kippur (Jewish Day of Atonement). This reflective and affecting piece contrasts an adagio melody against a persistent drone of cello and violin; and develops them patiently to a potent climax.

The recital closed with the Beethoven’s Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor Op. 131, the same piece that apparently prompted Schubert to remark, “After this, what is left for us to write?” While the piece is a colossal achievement of musical integration, the performance of Brooklyn Rider took it to another level. They played with remarkable confidence and conviction; and one can only be glad that it made sense to them. Indeed, they are the “quartet of their time”.